In April 2019, Jerry Blohm, Graylan Franklin, and Movie Prop Rentals were honored to work on a moving tribute to retiring NBA legend Dwyane Wade, commemorating the extensive philanthropic work he’s done off-court over the course of his 16-year career. The four-minute spot was paid for by Budweiser and aired on April 9 at Wade’s last home game at American Airlines Arena before retirement. The touching tribute, which has left fans across the world in tears, has gone viral, with nearly 5 million views on YouTube.
We’ve received a lot of amazing feedback about our work on the ad, but what most people don’t realize – including national media outlets that have been covering the ad, from SB Nation to Hollywood Life, is that when Dwyane Wade walks out onto the empty court at “American Airlines Arena” – it isn’t American Airlines Arena at all! It’s actually the University at Miami – which through our signature creative ingenuity, resourcefulness and hard work, we tricked out completely to look exactly like the Miami Heat’s home stadium.
Movie Prop Rentals Brings Hollywood Magic To the Dwyane Wade Tribute Video
“We printed a crazy amount of graphics and basically wrapped the entire place in one day,” explains Movie Prop Rentals’ Jerry Blohm about the transformation of the University of Miami basketball court into Wade’s home court at the American Airlines Arena. “It fooled a lot of people. Dwyane Wade was there, the huge Heat logo was in the middle… but it was really nothing more than Hollywood smoke and mirrors to achieve that part of the commercial.”
The next day, we went to Robot Studios in Miami, where we designed, constructed, and installed a mock living room to look like his house, and hung 20 of his signed jerseys in a well-lit case on the wall. We were entrusted with a one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable collection that will be worth millions of dollars.
“I went through several designs to achieve the perfect silhouette showing off the shirt,” Blohm adds.
Director Ritesh Gupta contacted us to say, “I don’t know if you’ve seen the press, but the Wade spot is BLOWING UP, and all the press is talking about is how ‘Budweiser surprised Wade in American Airlines Arena.’ GREAT job on what you and your team did. You made it happen and we CAN’T THANK YOU ENOUGH!”
We also designed, 3D-printed, carved, and finished a life-sized trading card replica to go on display at the arena for the April 9 game.
Who is Dwyane Wade?
For those of you who don’t follow the NBA, Wade spent the majority of his long career as a guard for the Miami Heat. As a leading scorer, he took the Heat to their first-ever championship in 2006, and won back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013. He’s joined the ranks of LeBron James and Michael Jordan as one of the only players in NBA history to record at least 20,000 points, 5,000 assists, 4,000 rebounds, 1,500 steals, 800 blocked shots, and 500 three-pointers.
Yet, as the Budweiser tribute drives home, it’s the moments off-the-court that truly make the man. Wade received the 2018 NBA Cares Community Assist Award for his support of students after the tragic high school shooting in Parkland. In 2012-2013, he received the award for his promotion of education, health, and social skills for at-risk children through Wade’s World Foundation.
About the Ad
Emotions were running high from “the many tributes to the future Hall-of-Famer” at Wade’s last game, reports the Florida Sun-Sentinel, “but none brought out the tears quite like the one from Budweiser.”
“To honor his final season, Dwyane Wade has been swapping jerseys with NBA legends,” the video begins, showing Wade’s collection of iconic jerseys signed by other NBA greats like Lebron James, Kemba Walker, Paul George, Vince Carter, Chris Paul, Dirk Nowitzki, and others.
The video continues: “But before he says goodbye, we surprised him with five more.” We see Wade himself, in what is presumably the American Airlines arena, walk out onto the court with the stands quiet and empty. He waits for Budweiser’s big surprise, stating he has “literally no idea” who’s coming, as the audience wonders which players will come out carrying basketball jerseys.
But, one by one, it’s five people whose lives have been touched by Wade’s philanthropy who come onto the court to offer symbolic gifts:
- A high school basketball jersey once worn in a championship game by Joaquin Oliver, one of the 17 victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last year. “My family wanted you to have this,” his sister tells Wade – who once had written Joaquin’s name on his shoes.
- A custom shirt with a gold crown from a woman who was invited on a family shopping spree with Wade personally after her house burned down 10 days before Christmas.
- A cap and gown from a 2014 graduate who was able to afford law school with a full tuition scholarship from Wade’s charitable organization.
- A black suit jacket worn to a first job interview from a man who was inspired by Wade to turn his life around.
The most touching presentation was a purple robe presented by Dwyane Wade’s mother, Jolinda, to symbolize “royalty,” which is how he’s perceived by everybody whose lives have been touched by his actions. Dwyane bought his mother a church to help her restart her life after she struggled with addiction and spent time in prison.
“You were the joy of my life, but I was dropping the ball,” she said. “Your mama went down a road, Dwyane, that I didn’t ever think I’d come back from. But on that road, I noticed you kept showing up.”
Jolinda closes the ad by saying, “I am more proud of the man you have become than the basketball player. You are bigger than basketball.”
Bring the Magic of Movie Prop Rentals to Your Next Project
The sky is the limit when it comes to what Movie Prop Rentals can achieve for you. We can bring the same magic to your project that we brought to Budweiser’s heart-warming Dwyane Wade video tribute. Contact us for information on prop rental, prop fabrication, art direction, set building, and lighting. We specialize in making your vision a reality through impressive, cost-effective measures.